Xeriscape Backyard: Mulch Maintenance

Last month Sydney and I refinanced the house and I was added onto the title. I am now officially a home owner. But while the ink is still wet on the title, I have had the privilege of handling home owner duties and responsibilities since moving in a few years ago. And while it can be cumbersome or annoying to deal with the day to day headaches and costs that come with home ownership and maintenance– "why is the floor leaking? Is the heater supposed to sound like that? Toilet is overflowing!...Those damn squirrels are tearing off the shingles"– it all seems to melt away when you're staring at a home project you've just completed.

At the end of spring last year we decided we would lay down sod in the front and backyard. The dogs were enjoying the backyard but would track mud through the house every time the yard was wet. Catching a wet dog then wiping their paws multiple times a day during the April rain season was getting old. So we decided we would lay down sod.

We knew the St. Augustine would take and thrive in the front yard. It had plenty of direct sunlight, and with water it would look great in a few months. But we had our doubts about the backyard. It has big beautiful trees. We love the trees and it's one of the reasons we bought the house. But the shade only allows small amounts of direct sunlight. This is less than optimal for grass. Knowing the risk, we still went for it. After a few weeks the front yard was flourishing and the back yard was crawling for its life. So it was on to to Plan B.

Plan B was to xeriscape the backyard. We built three flower beds in the backyard and filled them with black mulch. The black mulch would contrast nicely against the gravel we planned to lay down everywhere outside of the beds. The end result was beautiful and I wasn't wiping paws anymore.

It's been a little more than a year since we've done the xeriscape and it's held up well. But the dogs have ran the gravel down and kicked up most of the mulch, emptying the beds. On top of that, weeds have grown through the mulch and invasive ivy crept over the back yard fence and into the yard. It was looking a bit Jumanji-ish. And more importantly, the dogs paws were getting dirty again. And once you go to a life where you're not wiping paws, it's hard to go back to wiping them.

Re-doing the mulch was the big key. It covers the dirt and prevents the dogs from picking up mud and tracking it in the house.

On Monday I went to Lowes and grabbed 24 bags of mulch (I post a lot on my instagram stories) ( I was curious to see if they would all fit in the wagon...they definitely did. #powerwagon). Then I raked up the fallen leaves, cleaned up the dog business, and weedeated the invasive weeds and ivy. Over the next few hours I laid down the mulch in the backyard. The 24 original bags filled up 2.5 of the beds. So I had to wait until after work Tuesday to finish. I picked up another 10 bags on Tuesday, finished off the bed in the back and spread the remaining mulch in smaller beds in the front yard.

The Backyard Pre-Maintenance


Both yards look a lot better. I stared at them for months knowing that they needed maintenance but we were always busy or uninterested. But setting out on a task and seeing it come to fruition is a great feeling. And I want to feel more of that. It makes me want to actually be outside to enjoy it. I hope to use this momentum to tackle other things around the house.

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